Walmart says it is reviewing its Juneteenth-themed ice cream following backlash online, and “will remove items as appropriate,” the company says, reports NBC News. The flavor was part of Walmart’s special edition commemorating June 19, the newest federal holiday, which recognizes the official end of slavery and the celebration of Black culture. Many criticized the gesture as a form of cultural appropriation.
In photos circulating online, the ice cream’s container has green, yellow and red accents and says, “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope.” The ice cream is also available in a swirled red velvet and cheesecake flavor.
Among those who expressed their concerns was Gwen Kelly of Chicago, who first saw images of the Juneteenth ice cream circulating on her Twitter feed Sunday night. Kelly worked at Walmart for about 12 years, including as senior executive in the global office of culture, diversity and inclusion from 2015 to 2018. She questioned whether the diversity executives or Walmart’s corporate Black associate resource groups were involved in the decision-making process.
“I would have taken guidance from those who have celebrated Juneteenth for a long time … it’s part of their family tradition,” Kelly told NBC News.